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Inclusion and Community Engagement Strategy 2025

Publication

Contents

Foreword

By Max Hill and Rebecca Lawrence

Equality, diversity and inclusion is at that heart of how we work at the CPS, both as an employer and as a prosecution service. As Director of Public Prosecutions and Chief Executive Officer, we’re committed to creating an inclusive culture - in how we work together as an organisation and how we work with our external partners and serve our communities. We want to foster a workplace where our people are supported and where everyone knows that their personal contribution is valued. We also want to make sure that we respond to the needs of the communities we serve by taking time to listen and understand their concerns. It is only by doing this that we can be our very best and achieve our core purpose - delivering justice through fair and independent prosecutions in line with our public sector equality duties. Our 2025 Inclusion and Community Engagement strategy sets out how we will do that and how this will help us achieve the vision we set ourselves in CPS 2025.

We’re grateful for the ongoing support we’ve had from our CPS people (through staff networks and trade unions), colleagues, community, and criminal justice partners in taking the time to help us continually develop and refine this work. Your energy, enthusiasm and commitment is integral to this strategy and we look forward to continuing to work with you all to continue to deliver justice and champion inclusion across the criminal justice system.

Through this strategy, we will build on our strong foundations, making sure we continue to lead the way on promoting fairness, equality, diversity and inclusion. We do this both in the way we approach our responsibilities to our CPS people and in how we deliver prosecutions - and the two go hand in hand. Simply put, being an inclusive place to work and supporting a diverse workforce allows us to provide a better service to the public. Building on the approach set out in our previous strategy, ICE 2025 recognises this link and is therefore jointly led by our Director of Strategy and Policy and our Chief People Officer.

We know how important it is to engage with our communities. As prosecutors, we represent the public interest in the criminal justice system. As such, it’s absolutely vital that we understand the needs and concerns of the people we serve - the public. We do this by talking openly to community representatives, partner organisations and charities, both locally and nationally. Communities are best placed to tell us what is working well and where we can improve. We’re committed to using this insight when making decisions about how we work and to keep improving. Community engagement also gives us opportunities to talk about our work and explain how we make our decisions - helping to improve public confidence in the CPS and the wider criminal justice system.

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve continued to deliver an ambitious community engagement programme at both a local and national level. Our casework scrutiny panels allow community-based stakeholder groups to review our casework and ask questions about our decision making. Over the next four years we want to do more to ensure the lived experiences of our communities inform the ways we work and broaden our reach and engage more those who feel most disaffected by the criminal justice system. We’re confident that this strategy sets out an ambitious plan to help us do that.

We’re proud to lead an organisation that is compassionate, transparent, and willing to listen to the concerns of those we serve. We both have a strong, personal commitment to making sure we understand the context of our decision-making and the impacts those decisions have on the people they affect. As leaders of a public service, we cannot be complacent. We must take every opportunity to listen to and respond to our communities, particularly those who are disproportionately impacted by crime, and we must work with partners to identify and understand disproportionality in our decision-making.  As we listen to the concerns of our communities and develop our understanding of disproportionality, we must work with our partners to take action and improve when we get things wrong. This principle sits at the heart of this strategy and will be increasingly important as the country continues to recover from the pandemic.

It’s also clear to us that we can only provide a quality service by being truly inclusive and diverse. Not only that but research shows that inclusive workplaces are more innovative and more likely to enable people to be at their best. Whilst we have a strong track record on diversity and a diverse workforce overall, we want to do more to ensure every part of our workforce – across all grades and all regions - is reflective of the communities we serve.

Treating everyone with respect is one of our core values at the CPS. This means creating a culture where everyone can bring their whole self to work and where inappropriate behaviours are simply not tolerated and concerns about those behaviours are always listened to and acted on. Our people are our greatest asset and we must support them to do their best at work and fulfil their potential.

Investing in our inclusive culture and community engagement work - through the work set out in the strategy - will help us to promote equality, tackle disparities and embed diversity and inclusion through all that we do. This will enable us to continually improve, delivering a quality service and building public confidence in the work we do.

Introduction

By Baljit Ubhey and Dawn Brodrick

Our commitment to diversity and inclusion runs through everything we do from how we support our people day to day, to how we take strategic decisions and develop policies. We firmly believe in creating a culture where everyone’s voice is heard – whether that’s our people, our partners or the communities we serve. National and local leaders across the CPS are committed to better understanding and responding to these voices. 

Our approach to inclusion is grounded in our responsibilities under equalities legislation but we aim to go further than that. Investing in our internal culture has significant benefits for our people, but it also has a wider impact - helping us to build stronger relationships with our communities and partners and deliver a quality public service.

We’ve built strong foundations from which to launch our 2025 Inclusion and Community Engagement strategy and will build on these successes. We’re proud to be one of the UK’s most inclusive employers - we’ve been recognised by the social mobility employer index as a disability confident leader and as one of the top 10 most family-friendly workplaces in the country. We’ve increased our workforce diversity - making us one of the most diverse organisations across the Civil Service. We’ve also successfully increased the number of our people who’ve declared their equalities information. By understanding our people and their needs we can make sure that everyone feels recognised and represented, and has the support they need to reach their full potential.

To ensure we put equality at the forefront of our work as a prosecution service, we’ve implemented bespoke training for all prosecutors on the Public Sector Equality Duty and what this means for us. We’ve successfully developed a framework to help us consider the equalities implications of our policies and procedures, and we’ve undertaken work to make sure that all parts of our advocacy workforce - both in-house and external - are diverse and inclusive. For example, we’ve refreshed our Briefing Principles for allocating work to advocates and our Diversity and Inclusion Statement for the Bar in consultation with representatives from the Bar Council.

We have well established community engagement mechanisms in place at national and local level. These include our National Community Accountability Forum, External Consultation Groups and local Scrutiny Involvement Panels and Community Conversations facilitated by Chief Crown Prosecutors. These forums enable us to hear directly from our communities about issues that matter to them and enable them to scrutinise our decision making.

Over the past year, the impact of COVID-19 and the global movement against racism brought societal imbalance and disproportionality sharply into focus. We know how these can adversely impact the trust our communities hold in the equity and fairness of the criminal justice system. Our community engagement forums provided a space for us to listen to and respond to their concerns.

While we’ve come a long way, there is still more we can - and must - do. We want to deliver a truly inclusive CPS for our people, our communities and everyone who comes into contact with the criminal justice system. So, to make sure we achieve that our 2025 Inclusion and Community Engagement Strategy represents a step change in the way we work.

Our strategy - and the local delivery plans which underpin it - set out a comprehensive programme of work that we’ll take forward over the next four years. Through this work, we will embed inclusion and community engagement at the heart of all that we do. It’s not just something that affects those directly involved in this work - it touches each and every part of the business. Listening to our communities will help us understand their needs and concerns which will make us better at delivering justice.

Our leaders will have a particularly crucial role in making this a priority across the organisation. We’ll implement a robust performance framework to monitor our community engagement work and will anchor local and national activity to our organisational objectives, providing consistency of approach across the organisation. We’ll demonstrate clearly how engagement activities are leading to improvements across the CPS.

However, this strategy goes further than headline targets. We need to increase our diversity of thought, drawing the best talent from all walks of life and making sure that our workforce reflects the communities we serve in all parts of England and Wales. We will benchmark ourselves externally against recognised standards to make tangible improvements in our workplace culture, so that everyone knows their contribution is valued and respected.

We’ll measure, monitor and report on our diversity, including characteristics protected by law, but also going further by looking at social mobility. We’ll continue to set ourselves additional targets throughout the course of the strategy. We’ll also seek to better understand the experiences of our people through survey results and conversations with our staff networks. An integral part of this strategy is doing more to work with and respond to the insights from our staff networks, who continually challenge us to go further in making our workplace as equitable and inclusive as possible.

Making fair and independent decisions is a cornerstone of who we are. We remain open to public scrutiny and we’re committed to continuously improving, we will therefore also work closely with academic and third sector partners to analyse our data and act accordingly where any evidence of disproportionality arises. As we put this strategy into practice, we’ll remain responsive to global events and the changing nature of crime so that we continue to engage with communities and stakeholders on issues that affect them.

This strategy places inclusion and community engagement firmly at the heart of how we deliver justice. It’s only by being truly inclusive, supporting our people and understanding our communities that we can achieve our 2025 vision.

Quotes from a few of our stakeholders who have contributed to the development of the strategy and who hold us to account:

“Inclusion and community engagement has been placed at the heart of the ICE strategy. At a time when this has become peripheral for some organisations, the CPS has maintained its core stance of ensuring that the voices of different groups, individuals and stakeholders are included in understanding the impacts of and engaging on the core work of the CPS. This shows real leadership in this area.”

Fiyaz Mughal OBE, Co-Chair of the Community Accountability Forum (CAF)

“The reputation of CPS being a progressive and dynamic organisation relies upon our hearing, listening and proactively responding to your communities and staff.

"The NBCPA is pleased to celebrate the launch of the new CPS Inclusion and Community Engagement Strategy 2021 – 22. The strategy forms an essential benchmark for NBCPA output as we strive to support the CPS to be the best organisation it can, not only in how it treats its staff but also in the way we deliver our services to the communities we serve.”

Grace Moronfolu MBE, Chair - National Black Crown Prosecution Association (NBCPA)

“Since 2004, the LGBTi Employee Network has worked very successfully with the CPS at all levels to make progress and improvements in the areas of diversity, inclusion and engagement – the outcomes of which we should all be very proud of.  This Strategy clearly sets out the organisation’s unceasing ambitions for continuous improvement in this area, with very clear alignment to the broader commitments of the 2025 Strategy.  I am delighted to see it’s unequivocal recognition of both the value of our people and of the insight we can gain through positive and proactive engagement with those who come into contact with the criminal justice system.  We look forward to continuing the long-established track record of collaboration with key stakeholders to ensure we meet or exceed the success measures this strategy outlines.”

Mark Brocklehurst, Co-Chair - CPS Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and intersex (LGBTi) Employee Network

“Inclusion gives everyone a voice and the chance to be heard and participate, whilst creating opportunities to progress and add value in the workplace.”

Olive Essien, Co-Chair - CPS Disabled Staff Network (DSN)

Our strategic approach and aims

  • Our people are at the heart of everything we do.
  • Our digital capability enables our success.
  • Through our strategic partnerships, we shape a legal, policy and operating framework that facilitates our core role: independent and fair prosecutions. 
  • High standards of casework quality are essential to delivering justice. We work with partners across the criminal justice system to make the public safer.
  • Everyone at the CPS plays their part in delivering every strategic aim. Everything we do contributes to our ultimate goal of building public confidence through delivering services that are fair and understood by all communities.

Our People

Aim:

Our people lead with inclusion at the heart of what we do

Outcomes:

  • Our workforce is reflective of the communities we serve
    An inclusive culture providing a safe environment where inappropriate behaviours are not tolerated
    Our action on workforce inclusion is evidenced based
    Our people are skilled in championing inclusion and diversity in the delivery of justice and fair outcomes

Digital Capability

Aim:

We maximise our use of technology and data to support delivery and broaden our reach

Outcomes:

  • Our agile engagement and communications reach a broader range of communities and partners
    Policy and practice is informed by better national and local data, including in respect of those with protected characteristics
    Workforce inclusion is enabled by technology and data

Strategic Partnerships

Aim:

We are a leading voice on inclusion across the CJS, and work with partners to facilitate change

Outcomes:

  • Inclusion goals are furthered with strong national and local partnerships
    Outputs from external scrutiny informs our strategic engagement with relevant stakeholders on policy issues
    Victim, witness and defendant group engagement improves confidence in the CJS

Casework Quality

Aim:

We use the insights of communities and relevant sources to drive improvements in policy and practice

Outcomes:

  • Crime trends and feedback from NGOs, communities, research and academia inform our priorities
    External scrutiny of CPS decisions facilitates improvements to service delivery and public confidence
    Casework disproportionality in respect of relevant characteristics is identified and acted upon nationally and locally
    Compliance with our legal obligations under the Equalities Act 2010 is monitored and assured, supporting inclusive policy making

Public Confidence

Aim:

We engage with communities to effectively drive public confidence

Outcomes:

  • Community engagement Is embedded as a Business as Usual function
    We adopt proactive communication and engagement strategies with stakeholders, service users and community groups 
    Performance data and casework outcomes drive public confidence
    Increased confidence in our decisions as advocates for inclusion
    Trust and confidence in the communities we serve is built on a track record in workforce diversity and inclusion

  • Our strategy - The CPS is a leading voice on inclusion and regularly engages with staff, communities and partners to improve casework quality, increase understanding of the role of the CPS and build public confidence

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